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Campus Finance Briefs

Student Textbook Spending Declines

University Business, Feb 2012

With ever more affordable options available to them, a new report shows that students are spending somewhat less on average for their textbooks than in previous years. According to the Student Watch study conducted by the OnCampus Research division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), students spent $655 on required course materials this year, down from $667 two years ago and from $702 four years ago.

“This is terrific news for students, who continue to be pressured by the higher cost of attending college. The steady decline indicates that the money-saving strategies college stores are implementing to keep required course materials as affordable as possible for their students are having a positive impact,” said Julie Traylor, NACS’ chief of planning and research.

Textbook rental has caught on in a big way at colleges and universities around the country, thanks to efforts by campus retailers such as Follett and Barnes & Noble. In 2009, there were approximately 300 campus stores offering rental options. That number had grown to more than 2,500 last fall. Students can often save up to 66 percent off the price of a new print textbook. College stores are also carrying more used textbooks (a 25 percent savings) and digital (a 40 percent savings), according to the report.